‘Digital divide’ has shown little sign of decreasing, says World Economic Forum

23 Apr 2014

The World Economic Forum annual meeting in 2009

The digital divide between the most technologically advanced nations and the least technologically advanced countries is showing little signs of decreasing, a new report from the World Economic Forum indicates.

The report entitled Addressing New Digital Divide Key for Balanced Growth measured the capacity of 148 economies with regards to leveraging ICT for growth and well-being.

Many of the countries to top the index would be familiar entries on the list and have not changed since the last report, with Finland, Singapore, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway making up the top 5, respectively.

However, some of the world’s largest developing economies rank considerably low on the list, with highlighted examples including China (62nd), Brazil (69th), Mexico (79th) and India (83rd), all of which have fallen in the rankings since the previous report.

Ireland has moved up one place to 26th.

Europe remains the centre of the highest level of ICT standards, encompassing ICT infrastructure cost of access, uptake and use of ICT among governments, business and individuals, business and innovation environment and the political and regulatory framework, and economic and social impacts accruing from ICT.

A number of the most unlikely countries were found to have seen the biggest jump in the Networked Readiness Index, including Kazakhstan (38th) and Panama (43rd), which jumped four places each in the rankings.

Speaking about the need to bridge the digital divide, Beñat Bilbao-Osorio, a senior economist at the World Economic Forum and co-author of the report said, “In addition to the persistent digital divide across countries, governments should also be wary of understanding, identifying and addressing potential internal digital divides so that new opportunities can be created for all and support enhanced social inclusion.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic